Next Spring, Near Paris

Start saving your money. Next May, go to Paris. Leave early on the morning–there’s an 820AM from Paris’s Saint-Lazare Station to Vernon, and then, there’s the taxi. The train arrives at 9:05AM at Vernon, and the cab will get you to the front entrance of Monet’s home and gardens by about 9:15AM. You want to arrive early, perhaps catch the mist rising from the water garden, perhaps take a few pictures or just gaze before the crowds populate every view. (Get there earlier, if you can; it’s always best to arrive first-in-line here.)

Sigh.

Summer is ending. There is autumn color: the purples and luminous yellows, the garish reds and the beginnings of orange trees reflected in the water. But there is nothing like spring.

In 1883, Claude Monet settled in Giverny, a village fifty miles outside paris. He rented a house with an orchard, the future Clos Normand, the flower garden at the front of the house that broke with the traditional idea of a pleasure garden.

9781419709609So begins the tale, told mostly in large, vivacious images, of Claude Monet’s extraordinary gardens (and home), told with love and with style through Jean-Pierre Gilson’s photographs, with text by Dominique Lobstein. Published by Abrams–one of the best in the world at this type of book, the visual tour begins, as it should , in the purple haze and tangled wisteria branches hanging over the famous Japanese bridge. The photograph is subdued; there are no bright colors yet. On the next two-page spread, there are brightly–colored bushes and their quiet reflections, house peeking out of the background behind some trees. Flip to the next of these several two-page spreads and it’s a riot of roses, glowing in the sun, red, pink, nearly white, braced by green leaves so dark and sometimes so nearly translucent, bold as can be. The text begins.

And on the next spread, so does spring. After the prelude, spring commences with a field of pink tulips, clean green fences and stair rails, dark green-blue leaves, and the stunning-but-simple house with its own pink facade and blue-green shutters. The effect is stunning, as if in a painting–and here, that’s precisely the effect that the master painter intended. To be at Giverny is to live inside a Monet painting, at least for a morning.

It’s not all cluttered with noisy flowers and oh-so-subtle impressionist gardening. “Monet wanted a garden that could ‘breathe’ with flowers, bushes and an open vista…” so he removed the many trees from the old orchard, and replaced them with Japanese cherry trees that yield, at least for a brief time in the spring, lighter-than-air blossoms, punctuated, here and there, as in any number of his paintings, with spots of bright color; here, red and purple tulips.

I wish I knew the name of every flower (and I wish the author’s captions included this information!). The phenomenal two-page spread showing yellow towers of flowers two stories high, dappled with pink-and-purple irises, golden yellow somethings (frustrated…), and it’s followed by several more. (I want to it to be spring today, and I want to go to Giverny tomorrow.)

And then, when your head is beginning to explode because Monet was such a genius, there’s a pair of small green rowboats, a field of happy daffodils, and in the distance, the Japanese bridge that he painted so often. Here, with a less exhausting spectrum, it’s possible to rest and reflect, and observe. The yellowy green of the locust leaves in contrast with the deep green of the background trees–with just a hint of small violet flowers to set the counterpoint.

The flighty, wavy petals of mauve tulips surprise me every time I see them. Here, they’re pictured with the famous lily pad pond in the fuzzy distance, and the sharp, sun-dappled orange wallflowers in the foreground. Another two-page spread, one of my favorite two-page spreads in the book.

Just checking–I’m not even half way through the book. Some surreal lily pad images–two look as though they were made for a science fiction film, but they are real–and then, with a page turn, there are paths of dry ochre leaves on the ground, paths with strong color of fall, not spring. The quiet beauty of barren trees and cool skies, the yellowing willow and golden hour light, it’s bittersweet. Moreso because the last set of images show the house with shutters now closed tight.

But then, we get to go inside. A row of old copper pans artfully hung in front of a blue-and-turquoise tiled wall with cabinets. A yellow dining room whose walls are filled with Japanese prints (Monet collected them, and they are a highlight of every Giverny tour, but few people spend the time to look at them as closely as the artist once did). It’s a classy old country home, less formal than most. And then, there’s a small staircase leading down to a room with Persian carpets on the floor and a whole lot of miscellaneous Monet paintings almost haphazardly scattered on the walls. It’s his studio.

The book closes with snow. Which means spring is coming again. Soon.

Touched by an Eagle

I was quite taken with Ellen Eagle’s new book, Pastel Painting Atelier.  It’s a classy book, hardcover and quite beautiful, as this atelier series tends to be. Unlike most books about art, unlike most books written for creative people, this one provides several hours of quiet time with the artist at work in her studio, in her mind, with her eyes, with her hands.  She sees beauty in the tiniest of details: the curve of the silhouette of a woman’s face, the arrangement of the old pipes beneath the even older sink in the corner of a Manhattan studio, the private thoughts that take shape in a best friend’s eyes.

Here and there, the book is an instructional work for artists who wish to perfect their pastel technique, but that’s a small part of the whole. (In fact, the obligatory step-by-step demonstrations that end the book are its least essential part). The best parts are small comments that accompany the many sensitive images, often of women who might, in a glance, be dismissed as ordinary. Eagle describes her model, Mei-Chiao, as follows: “the inward gesture of the head to the chest was beautiful to me, and the backward pull of the shoulders is balanced by the triangular opening blouse neckline.” Minor details become a beautiful painting. Same girl, different painting, one that I found by exploring Ellen Eagle’s portrait website, an endeavor I recommend when you have the time to look carefully…

Ellen_Eagle052

The artist’s use of line and color is quite masterful, and throughout the book, it’s easy to get lost in page after page of exquisite, often subtle, portraits. She has a knack for capturing women especially well, almost as if she is drawing and painting their minds as well as their fine features. One of my favorites is below, also taken from her website. She describes the painting below as follows: “In Roseangela’s flesh, I saw warm yellow-greens co-mingling with touches of cool violets and pinks. The planes that faced the light contained color pinks, blues, and greys. Warm tones ran throughout the flesh. Warm, dark burnt sienna defined the depths of her eye sockets. Where the orange dress caught the light, the colors took on a cool temperature. The weight of her clasped hands pulled the dress inward, causing a slight angle away from the light, and the cooler tones gave way to warmer ones.” It’s almost as if she’s writing a poem with colors.

018ee39

This is a gentle book, an inspirational one with the promise of some instruction for the visual artist, but you need not be an artist to see what she sees, and to enjoy the way that Ms. Eagle perceives and so lovingly sees the world.

Here’s the cove. The image on the cover is another favorite. The artist was especially taken with the pose struck by the model. Be sure to visit  Eagle’s website to see the uncropped version.

book

Great App for Ideas; No iPad Version Yet

Although it currently lacks an iPad version, there’s a wonderful software application called Curio 8 that offers a remarkable combination of fully integrated features related to the world of ideas. I discovered it recently, and I’m just beginning to understand how useful Curio 8 can be.

Basically, Curio 8 combines these functions in a single package:

  • Note taking
  • Brainstorming
  • Mind mapping
  • Task management
  • Presentation


It’s a little bit OmniGraffle, a little bit Evernote, with some of the functions of Keynote, but it’s also a drawing program that’s also useful for presentations. Although it’s awkward to describe Curio 8 in terms of other software applications, this particular application more than holds its own in each of these categories (and more).

As in Keynote (Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s PowerPoint, very popular on iPads), you begin by choosing an “Idea Space” (in Keynote lingo, a “theme”). You can then drag documents (PDFs, RTF word processing files, image files; also, web links) into the Curio 8‘s Organizer, and assign properties to each of these items. For example: notes, metadata, color, style, size, color. In addition, as you would with Things or any of the GTD apps (“Getting Things Done,” a fancy to-do list), you can assign filters (“hot”,”under peer review,” etc.) You can also assign the name of an Evernote Notebook or an Evernote Tag because there is deep integration between Curio 8 and Evernote.

That’s only the beginning. Once the Curio 8 “project” is established, you can add any of these and more:

  • Basic shape, styled shape, stencil (all similar to OmniGraffle)
  • A list, such as a to-do list (complete with iCal syncing) or a bulleted list
  • A mind map (similar to XMind or any number of other mapping apps)
  • A table
  • An index card (similar to Corkulus)
  • An screen snapshot (similar to Grab)
  • An audio or video recording

Curio-ScreenThese audio and video recordings must be made live–there’s a built-in recorder. In this version, Curio 8 does not support, say, .mov files, but you can paste the link to a YouTube or Vimeo file (requiring Curio 8 to be used with an internet connection in order to see these files).

But wait! There’s more!! The next set of features allows various sorts of sketching, drawing and painting with a variety of pens and brushes.

You can export the Curio 8 project as a .tiff, .jpeg, .png, .PDF, .html, and for selected items, you can export, for example, a .csv file from a table.

Assets used in one Curio 8 project can be easily accessed for use in another (gee, I wish this was a common feature in Pages and Keynote).

In addition, there’s a bit of scripting that will recall, for example, FileMaker. You can assign an action to a specific asset within a project. Click on a shape and Curio 8 will automatically set up a new email message, or open a URL, or open a specific file.

Curio 8 is the work of a very creative guy named George who lives and works in North Carolina. His company is called Zengobi, and so, you can find out more about Curio 8 by visiting http://www.zengobi.com. In case you’re curious, Zen is, of course, a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism “that aims at enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation” and Goby is a small fish that swims in the shallow waters near North Carolina.

Often, George reports to his users via his blog. On March 13, he boasted about the addition of “the #1 requested mind mapping feature: mind map relationship lines.” On March 4, he explained the difference between a Concept Map and a Mind Map (the latter allows only one parent diagram per child). Lots of detail, all very useful and all wonderfully focused on the customer’s needs.

ScrivenerThis is the joy of working with a small software company: the product is terrific, and the company is highly responsive to customer needs. The same can be said about Literature & Latte, makers of the equally useful Scrivener word processor for authors, academics, screenwriters and playwrights.

The frustration, both for the company and for the user, is the amount of time required to build applications. In both situations, users have been patiently waiting for an essential tool: the tablet version of the software. Both of these programs are feature-rich. They have set a very high standard and they now serve a very specific niche customer base that expects an extraordinary feature set and a supremely reliable product.Typically, a small company is doing all it can to manage a Mac version (Literature & Latte recently released its first Windows version, but Zengobi has not). Add an app, and not just an iPad app, but a fully functional Android app as well, and the resource tug becomes uncomfortable.

And so, Curio 8 users do precisely what Scrivener users have learned to do. Be happy with the Mac-based product and its evolving feature set, and wait, patiently, for the inevitable release of the iPad app. In both cases, it’s coming soon. Even larger companies must take their time with app development–learning a great deal from every iteration. I’ve become a big fan of the OmniGroup products, happily using OmniFocus to manage my daily affairs, but only on the iPad and iPhone. Turns out, those apps are now so good that the older Mac app is so far behind that I don’t really understand how to use it. So what is OmniGroup doing? Redeveloping the Mac app so that it works the same way as their iOS apps.

We’re all learning a lot from this new wave of software application development. And, mostly, we’re discovering that this is all a very new way of thinking. Getting it right takes time.

A Teacher Who Paints Ideas

When a student faces a new subject, there is a certain comfort in structure, process, facts, and the rigorous routine that defines most teaching situations. Teachers find comfort in that structure: first, the basics, then, perhaps, the materials, then, the history followed by waves of increasingly specific information. In theory, it all makes sense. In practice, when faced with the sloppiness of real life, the structure may be exactly what’s not needed because it interferes with the real learning that occurs as a result of experimentation and making glorious mistakes.

I guess that’s why I had so much trouble understanding what Tom Hoffman was doing. Instead of writing a book that began with materials (in this case, watercolor paints, brushes, papers, and accessories), he begins by admitting that watercolor painting is not easy to do, that it is sloppy, messy, difficult to master, wasteful of expensive paper, and then eschews anything resembling a traditional learning process. Instead, he focuses on the most dangerous of all educational concepts: ideas.

Allow me to begin where he first captured my imagination, with a watercolor painting by an extraordinarily talented artist named Lars Lerin.

operaQuoting Hoffman:

The palette is limited to three colors, and almost all of the edges of the shapes are hard. In the realm of value, however, the artist pulls out all the stops. Never merely black, his deepest darks remain full of color. He limits the lightest lights to just a few stops, making everything else seem to be lit by the low gleam of a lantern in a gilded pattern.

With this glorious visual introduction, he begins where most instruction books ought to begin: by encouraging direct observation, followed by critical thinking (would this make a good painting? what appeals to me, and might also appeal to the person looking at my finished work?) and creative thinking (how can I bring the visual ideas to life in the best possible way?) Hoffman does not begin by focusing on materials. He begins by focusing on the process that every artist shares. This leads to two very helpful essays, one entitled “Knowing Where to Begin” and the other, quite reasonably, “Knowing When to Stop.” In between, he explains the process by examining a very common part of the painting process: thinking through the best way to visualize the shapes and forms and values with just enough detail to pull it all together.

Hoffman Skaftafell

Simplicity in pattern and form, a very effective work by Tom Hoffman.

Step back for a moment. Imagine learning history that way. It’s never about the details. It’s always about the whole form. (But in school curriculum, it’s always about the details. Which we always forget.)

A very colorful Juarez Market in Oaxaca is filled with detail. It’s the centerpiece of a chapter entitled “Knowing What Not to Paint.” This leads to thoughts and illustrations about shape and form, and a key concept: simplicity.

A lovely streetscape by the esteemed watercolorist Alvaro Castagnet show how color and light can be handled in the simplest possible way, and yet, with skill, they can result in a painting that appears to be quite complex. The secret, Hoffman explains, is thinking in layers.

Thinking in layers is an additive technique–place one layer of color, then another–but it requires subtractive thinking to begin. That is, you must look at a scene, observe it carefully, determine which areas can be isolated and painted with a single color wash without interfering with other areas. For example, a red wall might be washed, but the blue roof should not be washed in the same layer–unless you’re seeking purple results.

A market in Puerto Rico, painted by Tom Hoffman, provides an illustration of wide dynamic range (note the darks at the top, the lights in the distance),  layering and simple design for optimum impact.

A market in Puerto Rico, painted by Tom Hoffman, provides an illustration of wide dynamic range (note the darks at the top, the lights in the distance), layering and simple design for optimum impact.

Hoffman also encourages the use of a wide dynamic range: the lightest lights and the darkest darks are what makes a painting come to life. Too often, he explains, the range is almost exclusively in the middle tones, and, as a result, the work lacks energy, contrast, and a compelling reason for anybody to pay much attention. Again, appreciate the metaphor because it applies to so many aspects of life: dark and light, silent and boisterous, and so on.

Final lesson: simplify to the point of abstraction. His most powerful work tends to be simple masses of color, artfully arranged.

The name of the book is Watercolor Painting: A Comprehensive Approach to Mastering the Medium.

Watercolor Hoffman

You Know, A Lot Can Happen In A Century

In his time, Al Jolson was a superstar. We've managed to get past the need for blackface, and although it keeps changing, showbiz marches on.

In his time, Al Jolson was a superstar. Thankfully, we’ve managed to get past the need for blackface. Show business keeps changing, adapting to times and tastes. And until recently, there was one place to read about these changes, day after day, year after year. Now, that’s changing, too. How? Read on. (You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!)

Today, we’re digital. We live in modern times. These times, we believe, are so new, so unique, that they have no historical precedent. The mythology is tempting, but that’s because the history is just beyond the edge of our ken. We focus on the new. We forget what happened before. Until, of course, we’re reminded of our history as the result of a really good documentary, or a really good book.

vaudeville theatre

A hundred years ago, minstrel shows were just beginning to lose their luster, but it was unclear whether theater audiences would eventually prefer skating rinks, a vaudeville industry based upon national tours (new, in 1906), or bawdy burlesque as a the most popular ways to spend leisure time. Movies were just starting out with an industry of tiny, dubious start-ups and few places where they could be seen by anyone. Live theater was the popular entertainment; actors traveled from one city to another to perform in popular plays, just as they had since the time of John Wilkes Booth. It was a confusing time… The Great War was just beginning and the large theater lobbies were as useful as recruiting stations as they were for pre-performance gatherings. After the war, everything seemed to coalesce. Charlie Chaplin, who had debuted in a US theater in 1910, was sufficiently powerful by 1918 to join forces with movie stars Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and director D.W. Griffith to form United Artists. Then as now, everything happened quickly.

Prior to the 1920s, just about all entertainment was live. The movies were beginning to change that, and as the decade began, a new idea called radio was began as a kind of experiment, it’s post-military use future not yet clear. The year 1920 was one of vaudeville’s best ever. By 1925, radio was becoming popular, but its business model was entirely unclear. From a July 1925 article:

the broadcasters and radio manufacturers continue to tell Department of Commerce officials that no broadcasting station in the country is making money.

Paramount theaterParamount studioBy 1930, 40 percent of US households owned a radio, and by 1940, radio’s penetration was more than 80 percent. By 1930, there was a bona fide motion picture industry with large studios (Fox, Paramount, Loew’s/MGM, RKO and Warner), each with an elaborate distribution network of theaters throughout the country and a distribution infrastructure to service the nation and parts of the world. At the same time, the new NBC and its lesser rival CBS had built a similar structure for radio broadcasting. This structure supported the next level of development: a star system. Lon Chaney, Al Jolson, Fatty Arbuckle, Theda Bara, Duke Ellington, James Cagney, Fred and Adele Astaire, so many others became household names.

The industry grew. There were cartoons from Warner Bros, and Disney, comedy shorts from Hal Roach (Our Gang, Laurel and Hardy), child stars including Shirley Temple, and within a decade, major long-term successes including Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. There was Mussolini, Hitler, FDR, the Roaring Twenties followed by the Great Depression.

Variety bookVariety covered it all. This small, speciality newspaper, a trade rag, was always at the center of it all. When anything happened in or near show biz, Variety told the world. Everybody in “the business” read it, and to be mentioned in it was a clear indication of career success (I was in it, at lease once, and I still have the clipping).

This week, Variety announced that it would cease publishing its daily edition (the weekly remains in print, at least for the foreseeable future). This is not simply a cost cutting measure. Variety, once the trendiest of publications, has been badly beaten in the online entertainment journalism game, and some industry insiders question its survival as a 21st century brand.

Given its illustrious past, I suspect Variety has more fight in it than pundits allow. If you have any doubt, you must spend some time with a book about Variety’s history published by Rizzoli in a tidy coffee table format. The book is entitled Variety: An Illustrated History of the World from the Modt Important Magazine in Hollywood. The last headline in this volume: “Comcast buys 51% of NBC Universal.” I think it’s interesting to note that neither Comcast nor NBC nor Universal existed when Variety’s story began, and even more interesting to consider just how much has happened over the span of a single century. (Parallels with today’s innovative world are particularly fascinating).

Okay, why not? Here’s one of my favorite Variety headlines. This one was on the front page on July 12, 1950:

VIDEO NOW VAUDE’S VILLAIN
Acts and Agents Fear TV Inroads

Can’t help but wonder about a headline that could be written for July, 2050:

WEB, VID DEAD
TV and internet replaced by…

The Virtues of Daydreaming

From the author of a very good article (see below) about challenging our assumptions about learning:

Among its many benefits, daydreaming has been associated with longer attention span, increased resolve, creativity and even higher IQ.

To which I am tempted to add:

If a creative person does not spend at least a half hour a day, half paying attention to the world, lost in thoughts about what might be, how it might be done, and how everything could change, he or she is not doing what needs to be done. Drifting off, checking out from the “normal,” simply shutting out the real world for a bit… if you don’t do that, how in the world will you accomplish anything useful at all.

Daydream

Now, consider these assumptions:

  1. Playing scary and violent video games help children master their fears in real life
  2. Practical classroom science lab work provides children little learning
  3. Gardening improves children’s desire to learn and boosts their confidence
  4. Teaching kids at a very early age is counterproductive to their learning
  5. Green spaces elevate children’s learning through discovery
  6. Learning is affected by classroom acoustics, artificial learning, and windows
  7. Young children learn about prejudice by instruction, older children by experience
  8. Laughing results in increased memory retention

Now, read the article from InfomED: An online commentary for the education industry.  And allow yourself a good half hour to further explore other terrific articles including “Can We Teach Compassion?” (an infographic); “Facilitating Collaborative Learning: 20 Things You Need to Know from the Pros” and “The Tyranny of Homework…”

Moyers to Public TV: Reinvent Yourself!

These are some of my favorite excerpts from an inspiring speech by one of public television’s long-term heroes, Bill Moyers. He delivered the speech in November, 2010 at a gathering of public television programming executives…

“The core problem is that we still don’t have an expansive national vision of what we’re about, where we want to go and what we want to become. Until we are able to say clearly and comprehensively what it is we really want to do, how much it will cost, and how we intend to get there, we can’t blame Congress, the White House or even the foundations for not supporting us more fully.

…There’s a huge vacuum between the [public television] system, nationally and locally, and the big foundations and no one has yet been inspired or capable enough to link the two at the level of a consensus national plan.

There are always people who remain afraid of change or an unknown process, fearful of where it might lead.  But by contrast, the British and Canadians go through periodic charter reviews that invoke a national conversation; there’s a culture of discussion and planning for public media in those nations that help them survive even the worst assaults from detractors or vested interests. This could be a reason that public support for public media in nations like the U.K. exceeds $80 per capita, while we’re still limping along on $1.49 per capita.

…In the meantime, I’m here to tell you that even within the fiscal crisis public television currently faces, we have an opportunity to serve the public — to renew our bond to our communities.

You may not have money for in-depth documentaries or other high-end productions but you have cameras, microphones, studios and the trust of the community. You can be the ombudsman for the public within your reach, provide the venue for forums, teach-ins, town meetings, and debates over the issues that matter to people where they live, telecast in an atmosphere of openness and clarity without the mean and mindless rhetoric or cant that are so triumphant today. Civic engagement is the lifeblood of democracy and the bedrock of its legitimacy. No media can nurture, foster, and empower it the way we can.

…Meanwhile, let me offer just a few other ideas for you to consider:  Take a whole evening of primetime and give it to a forum for the fight in your neighborhoods over charter schools. Do the same for other distressed public institutions — your libraries, for example.

Or how about one week inviting as many social workers as you can get into your studio and asking them to share what they see every day — how people are coping each day with these worst hard times?  Do a series of workshops on Occupy Wall Street, pro and con.  Out there in Iowa, find the lady carrying the placard I saw last weekend on television that read: “I couldn’t afford to buy a politician so I bought this sign.” Bring her into the studio with her local member of Congress — have them talk frankly to each other about their different perceptions of money in politics. Do an evening of primetime on the fight going on right now in your state over redistricting — gerrymandering — the outcome will influence your state’s position and power for the next 10 years. Get folks aware and involved. If you don’t, who will? Certainly not the commercial stations in your market, that’s for sure.

…since David H. Koch of Koch Industries is on the board of both WGBH and WNET, I’d ask him to round up his billionaire buddies — and in a nonpartisan spirit reach out to civic-minded progressive billionaires like George Soros — and together create an independent, fully endowed, self-governing production center (free of any partisan strings or influence) for American drama that would bring our epic history and culture to the screen just like we’ve brought over the Brits’ Downton Abbey, make room for Jefferson’s Monticello! Now, there’s an Upstairs Downstairs story the public would make a pledge to see.

…What we need is a makeover of our own — a rebirth, yes, of vision, imagination, and creativity, but above all a structure and scheme for the 2lst century, one that uses the resources that the digital platform provides to realize the goals of our founders: diversity, public access, civic discourse, experimentation, a welcoming place for independent spirits.

The whole speech–including his idea for public television’s equivalent of a constitutional convention– can be found here:

http://www.current.org/pb/pb1122moyers-remarks.html

Resume: DaVinci (no kidding!)

The iconic creative professional and proto-technologist looking for work. Comes complete with English translation and modern commentary:

From The Ladders.com, “the translation of this letter is quite remarkable:

“Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.

1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.

2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.

3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.

4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.

5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.

6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.

7. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.

8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.

9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.

10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.

11. I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.

Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency – to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility, etc.”

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